One of our letter writers asked if the Vatican pressured Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, President of the Ateneo, into writing a memorandum to the university reminding us that the Catholic line is anti-Reproductive Health? And that heads — presumably that of the faculty — will roll? I am sure no heads will roll, since Ateneo — like all universities, I presume — value academic freedom and freedom of expression.
I do not really know if the Vatican did that, and why would they? Based on news reports, what I know is that Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of the CBCP wrote to Fr. Nebres asking him why we, the Ateneo professors, wrote a declaration of support for the Reproductive Health bill. And since when last I looked the Jesuits are still Catholics, naturally they would follow the Catholic line of thought. That is just pure and simple obedience, which is one of the three things a priest is sworn to follow, along with celibacy and poverty. Some of of my priest-friends (both Jesuit and non-Jesuit) tell me that of these three, obedience is the most difficult to follow. I am sure.
Anyway, all this reminds me of what a former Ateneo administrator told me, before I left for a Fulbright Fellowship in 2000 and I said I might not return to the Ateneo anymore because I found it such a small pond. She wickedly told me that a decade ago, when my gay anthology Ladlad first came out and became a bestseller, the secretary of the CBCP, a monsignor himself, called up Ateneo and asked if, indeed, I am teaching there? And then he demanded an explanation.
But the Ateneo administrator’s executive secretary — an elderly lady with the coolness of a cat and the claws of one — just answered nonchalantly with one word: “Yes.”
The monsignor at the other end of the line was waiting for our executive secretary to explain why this heathen who will be consigned to the flames of hell was teaching in a bastion of the Catholic Faith.
But our executive secretary herself just held the phone, and when no words came from the holy caller at the other end of the line, she just said, “Monsignor, I still have papers to type. I hope you will have a good day.”
‘Yan ang bongga.